Zero-Carbon Cloud: Understanding Stranded Power - Can It Reduce Computing's Growing Carbon Footprint?


Andrew Chien

(CSE Distinguished Lecture)

Andrew A. Chien
University of Chicago
Monday, November 20, 2017, 11am
Room 1202, CSE Building

Zero-Carbon Cloud: Understanding Stranded Power - Can It Reduce Computing's Growing Carbon Footprint?

Abstract:  The breakup of the power grid and widespread adoption of market dispatch has led to thousands of new wind and solar generation plants. The volatility of these sources gives rise to stranded power, negative pricing and curtailment.  First, we characterize stranded power as a large-scale resource (10’s of TeraWatt-hours) that will grow significantly with rising renewable-portofolio standards (RPS). Second we propose a new model for computing, Zero-carbon Cloud (ZCCloud), that presents data centers as a “dispatchable load”, exploiting stranded power to eliminate carbon emissions, enhance grid stability, and improve efficiency.  Results suggest that high productivity and cost-effective service is feasible, and projecting forward ZCCloud can enable both higher “peak capability” supercomputers and economically competitive cloud systems.  Finally, using advanced grid simulations, we compare traditional cloud data center integration with ZCCloud’s “dispatchable” load model.  Results not only improve cost and renewable integration, but also suggest that adding wind or solar renewables to cloud data centers, may be net detrimental to both power grid performance and carbon footprint. 

Formulating computing resources as "controlled" by the power grid raises a wide range of computer science challenges, including resource prediction, adaptive workload distribution, wide-area networks management with violent traffic shifts, and so on.  These are daunting challenge, but solving them will enable both cheaper operation and"zero carbon" computing.

Bio:  Andrew A. Chien is currently on sabbatical at the California Independent System Operator (CAISO). Dr. Andrew A. Chien is the William Eckhardt Distinguished Service Professor in Computer Science, Director of the CERES Center for Unstoppable Computing, and Senior Fellow in the Computation Institute at the University of Chicago, as well as Senior Computer Scientist at the Argonne National Laboratory.  In 2017, Andrew Chien became the Editor-in-Chief of the Communications of the ACM. In 2015, Dr. Chien founded the CERES Center, an ambitious multi-disciplinary research center involving 15 faculty and leading companies that seeks to create new foundations for computing systems.  From 2011-2016, he led the initiative to build a Computing Systems group in UChicago Department of Computer Science, that hired a ten faculty and has transformed the culture, perception, research breadth of the department, and its international stature.

Dr. Chien served as Vice President of Research at Intel Corporation, leading long-range and “disruptive technologies” research at Intel Research.  At Intel, he also led Intel’s external research programs, including government and higher education engagements.  In this role, Chien launched imaginative new efforts in robotics, wireless power, sensing and perception, nucleic acid sequencing, networking, cloud, and ethnography.  Working with Microsoft and NSF, Chien was instrumental in creation of the Universal Parallel Computing Research Centers (UPCRC) focused on parallel software, the Open Cirrus Consortium focused on Cloud computing, and Intel’s Exascale Research program.  For more than 25 years, Chien has been a global research and education leader, and an active researcher in parallel computing, computer architecture, programming languages, networking, clusters, grids, and cloud computing.  Previous academic positions include the SAIC Chair Professor in Computer Science and Engineering, and founding Director of the Center for Networked Systems at the University of California at San Diego (1998-2005). While at UCSD, he also founded Entropia, a widely-known Internet Grid computing startup.  From 1990 to 1998, Chien was a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with joint appointments at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) where he was a research leader for parallel computing software and hardware, and developed the well-known Fast Messages, HPVM, and Windows NT Supercluster systems.

Dr. Chien is a Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS), Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Fellow of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and has published over 170 technical papers. His research has been recognized for excellence by numerous awards, and supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration (DARPA), Department of Energy (DOE), National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA), Office of Naval Research (ONR), and numerous industry sponsors.  Chien served on the Board of Directors for the Computing Research Association (CRA), and the Advisory Board of the National Science Foundation’s Computing and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate. From 2014-2017 he served as co-Chair of the Editorial Board of the Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery (CACM). From 2008-2014 he served as a member of the CACM EB, and he also serves as an editor for ACM's Transactions on Parallel Computing (TOPC), and the Journal of Grid Computing (JOGC).  Chien received his Bachelor's in electrical engineering, Master's and Ph.D. in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Faculty Host: Mohan Paturi